For the next few hours, I played the handheld console I’d been given just the other day. Turner said it wouldn’t be a “destructive distraction” and I went along with it. I had to turn the volume off as Grant was still sleeping. I didn’t matter much, though. My thoughts were mostly elsewhere, anyway. Nalar had said we had combat training at some point today. So, not only did I have to hear a hero boast about their beliefs, but get the shit kicked out of me by them, too. Wonderful.
It was still fairly early when the others started to wake up. Soon after, nice smells were coming from the kitchen, but I just wasn’t hungry. I was still a bundle of nerves and I thoughts didn’t even stop not for a second. I could hear them talk down there and I contemplated introducing myself. I’d eventually decided against it as my anxiety overcame those logical thoughts that had told me not to worry.
I’d probably fallen asleep again because it was quiet when I woke up. Checking the time, I realized I was going to be late and set off out the door in a hurry. If it weren’t for those blasted limiters, I could just teleport there, if only a bit of distance at a time. Then again, I didn’t think it would work if I hadn’t seen the place before. It was also a really strange sensation that I didn’t think I needed on top of what I was already dealing with.
Somehow, I hadn’t arrived late and came through the door with just seconds to spare. I found some seat near the back and sat down. Apparently this was some kind of Ethics class and Leo once again made his stance pretty clear. I could hear Gloria stifle a laughter at his antics. I didn’t really think I could be bothered with that and tried to pay attention to the lesson as best I could
With that headache of a class over, I didn’t think things would get much worse from there, but oh, they did. Next was combat training or whatever against the hero known as the Rook. I had vague memories about him, but they were too far away and hazy in my mind for me to properly remember.
I watched the others take turns going at that hero, some doing better than others and a few even ending the match in a stalemate. I grew anxious just by watching. Just seeing the hero and my peers fighting had me all antsy and on edge. I felt lightning run up my hands from excitement. When was the last time I felt this? Hell, I didn’t even know if this was a good thing.
When my turn came up, that excitement came back, but I was hesitant. Something was telling me to hold back and try and talk my way out of it. I really didn’t think this would work and I was proven right as I didn’t even had a chance to speak before the Rook threw something on the ground, which made it difficult to see him. It made the air thick and my abilities practically begged me to grab hold and mark him for explosion-fodder.
I rejected that thought and backed away, not wanting any part in this. Hearing that hero behind me, I was knocked away by something I couldn’t see. He clearly was experienced and moved like lightning. I’d be surprised if it turned out that he didn’t have any abilities at all. All of this felt familiar, though. I knew as a fact I’d fought heroes in the past, I was just being stubborn and not allowing myself to embrace those memories. As long as I had control, nothing was going to happen. I was going to get my ass handed to me and surrender. No one would have to get hurt.
The Rook seemed bored with me and had asked why I wasn’t attacking. He didn’t accept my answer of “not wanting to” and kept up his relentless assault. I was already very sore and extremely tired. This wasn’t a good mix. Why wouldn’t he just take my word for it and leave me alone? My exhaustion turned to frustration and I noticed the lightning had appeared again. When the Rook had used that trick before with the fog, I couldn’t stop myself from prying off the limiters, appearing behind him and felt the power surge from my hands.
I was about to let it loose until a familiar vision came into my mind. It was from the dream I kept having. The one that had the blood everywhere, only this time it showed me what happened seconds before then. I’d done to same to another hero, appearing behind them with the lightning coursing over my arms. The vision had shown me the shock in his eyes. The fear. This was enough to stop me in my tracks and lower my guard.
I couldn’t get it out of my head! Why did I have to keep seeing this? Had I actually killed a hero? That felt too damn real to have been a dream. Was that why I was here? In that case, it would’ve just been easier to lock me away forever, right? Just put the air conditioning on full blast in there and that would be it, I’d no longer be a problem. I wouldn’t be here making a fool out of myself and having Turner believe I actually had a chance.
“Disappointing.” Was all the Rook said after seeing I could no longer fight.
When I found the strength again, I got up and retrieved the limiters. Yep, they were broken. How I even got them off to begin with was still a mystery to me. Was I really holding that much of a grudge towards heroes, or it could be something else? I slipped the stupid things back on even though they didn’t really work and kept my participation with the rest of the class at a minimum. I couldn’t risk anything. I continued to have that tingling sensation all over my hands long after the fight had ended.
I hadn’t noticed the bell ring and just sat there in my misery. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Standing up, I was about to head outside to be alone until Nalar came over to me with a cheerful expression on his face. I recall the Rook being really hard on him too. He was only able to hold his own because of Bardiche, apparently.
“Meal time, my favourite part of the day.” Nalar said with a grin.
“Huh? Oh, yeah…” I really wasn’t feeling it.
“Are you alright, Nine?”
I hesitated, thinking I’d told him enough already. “Just…fine.”
“Are you sure, you were quite hesitant it seemed to me. And that device around your wrists has been broken.” He said, prying just a little more.
“Yeah, it broke while I was fighting that hero…What’s it to you?” I hoped he’d back off, already…
“Perhaps I was mistaken, but I was under the impression we were to become comrades?” Nalar looked a little hurt and I couldn’t help but regret what I’d said.
I ran a hand through my hair out of frustration. “Yeah, sorry. I’m not really used to it.”
“You looked quite upset.”
“I can’t seem to use my abilities without seeing something terrible…And with these broken, I can’t control them that well.”
“That does sound quite concerning and undesirable.” Nalar arched an eyebrow, that concern still clear on his face.
It was strange having a friend for once, or at least someone to talk to. Turner was as sociable as a porcupine and he’d just brush off what I’d say most of the time. I wasn’t sure what else to talk to Nalar about or how I open I could be about what was bothering me. There was a line I didn’t want to cross that would result in him hating me, or anyone else in that case.
“I guess. What about you? Everything okay on your end?”
“Well, there is an obvious need for more training on my part, which is unsurprising as I was an armourer, not a warrior.”
“I thought you did really well.” I said as I recalled several times he’d used that axe like it had been a part of himself.
“You can thank bardiche. He’s rather versatile.”
“Well, I’m sure the one who made him should be proud too, yeah?” I replied with a faint smile.
“Perhaps.” Nalar grinds. “So, what do you like eating? I’ve been experimenting much with the food of this world.”
My mind drew a blank as I couldn’t even remember what I liked or hated in that case. I hadn’t had anything too terrible yet, though.
“There’s not much I don’t like.” I shrugged.
“I see, not surprising. There are things your people do better and I would say food is one of them.”
“They didn’t let me learn too much about your culture, said it wasn’t worth the time even though I really wanted to.”
“Well, human culture certainly has more variety in most of its aspect when compared to ours. Perhaps a symptom of being such a fragmented people.”
“I guess I haven’t seen the best of humanity.” I mumbled, looking down.
“You said ‘they’ did they not let you learn about us, who would that be?”
“Oh, these people I used to…work for. They’d kinda limit what I could do back then.”
“What kind of work did you perform?”
“Err…I, uhh…helped them deal with those who’d conflict with their plans.”
“I see.” Nalar said, not sounding suspicious or bothered by it. “What do you think of Mexican food?”
“Sounds good. Never had it, though.”